28 Days: Day 15

SCRIPTURE

  • Mark 1:9, Matthew 28:19-20, 1 John 2:3 & Acts 18:8

OBSERVATION

When we believe God and accept His gift of grace and love we are then washed clean and baptism reminds us of that work of God, as well as provides a testimony to others of the work of God.  Baptism is to be yet another avenue where we are given the opportunity to be His witnesses. 

UNDERSTANDING

Some reasons for baptism…

To Follow The Example Set By Jesus

(Mark 1:9 NIV)  At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

Because Jesus Commands It

(Mat 28:19-20 NIV) “ Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, {20} and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 (1 John 2:3 NIV)  We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.

It Demonstrates That I Really Am a Believer

(Acts 18:8 NIV)  Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.

LIFE APPLICATION

Baptism is one of the ways that we align ourselves with other believers, in essence it is an initiation into the fellowship of the believers, the church.  In aligning with the fellowship of believers we agree to be part of the Great Commission team. 

Are you a part of the Great Commission Team?


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28 Days: Day 12

SCRIPTURE

  • James 5:16 (NIV) 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
  • 1 Timothy 2:1 (NIV) 1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–  

OBSERVATION

“One thing more, the soul-winner must be a master of the art of prayer. You cannot bring souls to God if you go not to God yourself. You must get your battle-axe, and your weapons of war, from the armoury of sacred communication with Christ. If you are much alone with Jesus, you will catch His Spirit; you will be fired with the flame that burned in His breast, and consumed His life. You will weep with the tears that fell upon Jerusalem when He saw it perishing; and if you cannot speak so eloquently as He did, yet shall there be about what you say somewhat of the same power which in Him thrilled the hearts and awoke the consciences of men. My dear hearers, especially you members of the church, I am always so anxious lest any of you should begin to lie upon your oars, and take things easy in the matters of God’s kingdom. There are some of you—I bless you, and I bless God at the remembrance of you—who are in season, and out of season, in earnest for winning souls, and you are the truly wise; but I fear there are others whose hands are slack, who are satisfied to let me preach, but do not themselves preach; who take these seats, and occupy these pews, and hope the cause goes well, but that is all they do.”

(The Soul Winner Charles Spurgeon [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989]

UNDERSTANDING

All around us we see evidence of people who are struggling with and breaking under the stress and strain of everyday life; lost people who are at the end of their rope and without hope. In their time of need, they do not need judgment or condemnation or pithy Christian clichés. What they need is to feel the mercy and compassion of God from the people of God. There is no better way to convey that we care than to offer to pray for someone. Even the most skeptical or unreligious person will accept our offer and see it for what it is.

There is power in prayer! Not only in it’s power to communicate our love for the hurting, but it also releases the redemptive power of God into that person’s life and circumstances. Whether they ever admit it or not, they will understand that your prayers helped and God will use that truth to touch their hearts with His love.

LIFE APPLICATION

The next time someone shares a struggle or concern with you, offer to pray for them right then and there. If they decline, don’t be offended. Respect their feelings and let them know that you will be praying for them. Check in with them often, continue to walk with them through the struggle and be ready to rejoice with them when God answers your prayer on their behalf. Remember, people don’t care what you know until they know that you care. Care enough to pray!


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28 Days: Day 11

SCRIPTURE

  • 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) 15  But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

OBSERVATION

What does it mean to set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts?  I think that this is the pre-requisite for having a good witness.  When we set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts we are saying that God is the sovereign ruler of our life.  We are saying that He gets the highest priority, our deepest worship, that He is the One who has the right to tell us what to do.  When we live like this it will always foster questions from those around us and then we must be prepared to tell them what it is we are doing and why.

 

UNDERSTANDING

If you’ve ever served on a jury, you know that it can be a tedious and boring process. As a juror, you sift through charts, timelines, physical and circumstantial evidence, opinion and speculation…day after day. But the entire courtroom sits up and pays special attention when an eyewitness takes the stand. There is something riveting when someone testifies to what they have personally seen and heard. If they are telling the truth, not even the most skillful cross-examiner will be able to impeach the witness.

It is the same with our testimony concerning Christ. No amount of book knowledge, clever arguments or contrary opinion can ever shake our experience with the living Lord Jesus. When we share what Christ has done in our lives, we speak from experience. We don’t need to be expert bible scholars or theologians to give our testimony – we lived it! We have firsthand knowledge of, and a personal relationship with, a savior and friend who walks and talks with us, who has forgiven our sins and who promises us abundant and eternal life. Everyone within your scope of influence; friends and family, co-workers and school-mates, everyone you know, should hear about what God has done in your life and that He can do the same for them.

LIFE APPLICATION

As you choose to consecrate (set ourselves apart) our lives to God, prayerfully ask Him to place you in situations where you can share your faith and when those opportunities present themselves – Preach it! 


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28 Days: Day 10

SCRIPTURE

  • Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
  • Proverbs 12:18 (NIV) 18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

OBSERVATION

Sapros (unwholesome) refers to that which is corrupt or foul and was used of rotten fruit, vegetables, and other spoiled food.  Paul also wrote in Colossians 3:8, “put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth”

In addition to renouncing corrupt and harmful language we are to develop speech that is pure, helpful, and pleasing to God. Paul here mentions three specific characteristics of wholesome speaking: it is edifying, appropriate, and gracious.
MacArthur New Testament Commentary, The – MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Ephesians.

UNDERSTANDING

The schoolyard saying that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a lie. The incredible power of the spoken word is evident in the Genesis account of creation where God chose to speak the world into creation – “And God said…” In the same way, we have the power to speak into existence such things as life and death, blessing and curses, identity and destiny. There is not one of us who cannot identify a time when words either lifted us up to the heights of encouragement and possibility or cast us down to the depths of condemnation and despair.

As Christians, we represent Christ in every aspect of our lives, including the words that we use. Our God is a God of truth, blessing, and encouragement. Are those attributes of the Savior evident in the words we use? Men and women who have been made in God’s image have had that image corrupted by society, sin, disobedience and the lies of the enemy. We can be used by God to help lost souls reclaim their rightful identity in Christ as we speak words of value, purpose and redemption into their lives.

LIFE APPLICATION

Replay some of your recent conversations in your mind. How would you have been impacted by the words spoken if you were the listener instead of the speaker? Do your words build up or tear down? Does a change need to take place?

In a world today where the common rhetoric is hate what an amazing witness of God’s love we will be if we speak words that are gracious, edifying and healing.  Let’s go win the lost with our words.


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28 Days: Day 9

SCRIPTURE

  • Philippians 4:4-8, 12-13
  • Philippians 4:5 (NIV) 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

OBSERVATION

 Epieikēs (gentle spirit) has a richer meaning than any single English word can convey. Hence, commentators and Bible versions vary widely in how they render it. Sweet reasonableness, generosity, goodwill, friendliness, magnanimity, charity toward the faults of others, mercy toward the failures of others, indulgence of the failures of others, leniency, bigheartedness, moderation, forbearance, and gentleness are some of the attempts to capture the rich meaning of epieikēs. Perhaps the best corresponding English word is graciousness—the graciousness of humility; the humble graciousness that produces the patience to endure injustice, disgrace, and mistreatment without retaliation, bitterness, or vengeance. It is contentment.

Gracious humility runs counter to the cult of self-love that was rampant in ancient society, and is rampant in modern society as well. But focusing on self-love, self-esteem, and self-fulfillment leads only to greater and greater instability and anxiety. On the other hand, those whose focus is not on themselves cannot be knocked off balance by inequity, injustice, unfair treatment, lies, or humiliation. They can say with Paul, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (4:11). Spiritual stability belongs to the graciously humble.
MacArthur New Testament Commentary, The – MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Philippians.

UNDERSTANDING

Attitudes are contagious. Spend a minute or two with a grouch and pretty soon you will find yourself complaining and fault finding. We have the amazing ability to influence the emotional state of those around us. So, with what kind of attitudes are we “infecting” the people around us? After spending a few minutes with us, do people come away from that time uplifted and encouraged or bitter and angry? How are we reacting to the everyday stresses of life? Are we confident of victory or resigned to defeat? If we are constantly grumbling, what does that say about our hope in Christ?

In today’s reading, Paul describes how he was able to maintain attitudes of peace and confidence in the Lord through Christ who gave him strength, regardless of the circumstances. How about us? Are the people around us seeing the same thing in our lives? God does not promise us that life will be free from trials and tribulation, on the contrary, Jesus promised us that we would face those very things. What God did promise us was that He would be with us through all of them, that He would give us the power to face them as overcoming conquerors and that He would use our attitudes to draw unbelievers to Him.

LIFE APPLICATION

I want to preach the message of God’s hope and victory as we maintain an attitude of joy and peace in all circumstances. How do your attitudes reflect on Christ and affect those around you?


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28 Days: Day 8

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  • 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 (MSG) 1 Does it sound like we’re patting ourselves on the back, insisting on our credentials, asserting our authority? Well, we’re not. Neither do we need letters of endorsement, either to you or from you. 2  You yourselves are all the endorsement we need. Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. 3  Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it.

I think The Message translation of this verse says it best –“Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you”. And looking at you they are. The people in your sphere of influence know that you are a Christian and they are watching you as you work through all of life’s ups and downs to see if your actions match up with what you are saying; and we all know that actions speak louder than words.

There is nothing more compelling and attractive than a life of character and integrity. The most effective sermons are not delivered on Sunday mornings; they are preached daily as we act out our faith by living a life filled with the love, peace, joy and power that Christ has given us – and wants to give to others through us.

Take a moment to reflect on who is “reading” your life and whether the sermon that you are preaching by your actions is validating or contradicting the claims of Christ.


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28 Days: Day 6

SCRIPTURE

  • Acts 2:42-47

OBSERVATION

One of the greatest enemies of a growing Christian is isolation.  I believe that this is why the early church stressed that believers devote themselves to the fellowship.  People need to be in community.  In community we can encourage one another, show love to one another, spur one another on to love and good deeds.  We can pray for one another. 

James tells us that we must confess our sins one to another to that we may be healed. Maintaining open, sharing, and praying relationships with other Christians will help keep believers from bottoming out in their spiritual lives. The fellowship helps to give the spiritual strength that provides victory over sin. And they also provide godly pressure to confess and forsake sins before they become overwhelming to the point of total spiritual defeat.  Then we have the understanding of accomplishing the mission of the church as well.  The most effective way that is accomplished is as the community of believers, each person bringing their gifts and talents to help make the mission possible.

UNDERSTANDING

One person’s witty definition of TEAM is together everyone achieves more.  Apart from being witty it carries great truth.  Together we can accomplish so much more for the kingdom of heaven than trying to do our own things. 

 There is power in unity.  Too often we run away from unity because we confuse uniformity with unity.  God does not call us to all look, act and dress the same but He wants us to come together and agree upon pursuing the Great Commission together.  When we allow God to knit our hearts together in the bond of His Spirit we can accomplish great and mighty things for the Kingdom. 

LIFE APPLICATION

If DSC is to be a Great Commission Movement we must be unified.  That means following the God appointed leaders and embracing their plan for fulfilling the Great Commission.  Yes there are many different ways to become a Great Commission Movement but a DSC family that is in unity will rally around the God appointed leader.  I guess that requires putting your trust in that leader but then again trust is the currency of unity. 

Will you join your heart, mind and strength in unity around the plan for the Great Commission here at DSC?  Ask God to help you be in unity with the DSC family.


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28 Days: Day 5

SCRIPTURE

  • Acts 2:42-47

OBSERVATION

 “They devoted themselves to prayer…” 

 If we are to be a Great Commission Movement then this is one of the non-negotiables.  We have talked about prayer at Desert Streams for many years but still we lack this very important ingredient – an absolute devotion to prayer

UNDERSTANDING

Disciples of Jesus have some duties to perform.  According to the first church, the important duties were – being taught the scriptures, being involved in doing life together with other believers, being Christ-centered in their living and being people of prayer.  If we are not devoted to these things then God is not the highest priority of our lives.  Ouch that’s harsh – but still true.

  • John 14:13-14 (NIV) 13  And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Jesus tells us that if we pray and ask for anything then He will do it.  Are we relentlessly pursuing God’s provision in every area of our lives – corporately and individually?

The devotion to prayer is key to the power of God demonstrated in the lives of believers.

LIFE APPLICATION

What would it look like if we were all devoted to praying together?  I believe the results would be phenomenal.  I wonder if there are any of you who are feeling a holy discontent for the way things are and you are longing for the way things ought to be?  You know it only takes just a few who are willing to pursue an absolute devotion to prayer, will you be one?  Could this be the time where the Called at DSC will rise up and begin to pursue prayer in such a way that it releases a torrent of souls saved? 

Will you say yes to prayer?  Join us on Sunday mornings at 9:20am.  You are part of the prayer team that powers a Great Commission Movement.


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28 Days: Day 4

SCRIPTURE

  • Acts 1:8 and Acts 2

OBSERVATION

You have been handed an assignment and at first you think that this is mission impossible and that you will self-destruct in 10 seconds.  That is when you must remind yourself that God never gives us a task without equipping us for it. 

Like 007 we walk into the room with Q and we are outfitted with all the right equipment for succeeding at our mission – in our case all we have need for is Holy Spirit power. 

You will receive power to be His witnesses.   

UNDERSTANDING

Jesus is risen from the grave and for forty days appeared to people.  What an amazing experience it must have been.  As His witnesses He wanted them to be confident that He was truly risen, that He would be coming back, that they were on a mission to declare His gospel of Good News, and, He wanted them to know that they would have the power they needed for accomplishing whatever He would ask of them as they were about His business.

Look at Peter in our reading today and remind yourself that God wants to do through you just what He did in Peter.  Peter became a witness to the nations when He was empowered by the Holy Spirit. 

Begin right now by asking God to fill you with His Holy Spirit and get ready to accomplish the mission.

LIFE APPLICATION

What are you hesitant to do that you know God is asking of you in order to be His witness? 
What habit, addiction, sinful habit is keeping you from fulfilling God’s call on your life? 
Don’t hesitate, you have the Holy Spirit to empower you to overcome. 
You have the Holy Spirit who gives you direction when you are not sure what to do. 
You have the Holy Spirit who reminds you that you are forgiven and set free and can walk in boldness. 

Lord I pray that the power of the Holy Spirit will be evident in your people at DSC as they respond to being your witnesses.  Demonstrate your power through them with courage, miracles and great wisdom.


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28 Days: Day 3

Join us this evening @ 7 for a time of worship and prayer at the church.

SCRIPTURE

  • Acts 1:1-11

OBSERVATION

Jesus came to earth with a mission – the mission was simple…proclaim that God loves mankind and wants to re-establish relationship with him.  Jesus proclaimed this news through preaching, teaching and by performing signs and wonders.  He also trained up a band of men to follow in His footsteps.  When Jesus went back to heaven He commissioned the disciples to continue with the mission – they were to proclaim the Good News of God’s love to all nations and to testify of the power of God displayed through Jesus’ life. 

UNDERSTANDING

When Jesus was resurrected He appeared to people for forty days.  During that time His purpose was clear.  He wanted the disciples to be fully confident of a few things…

That He was truly risen from the dead – Luke tells us that He gave them many infallible proofs of the reality of His resurrection.  Most of the people in Jerusalem knew that Jesus was crucified but they needed to know that Jesus was risen once again, so the disciples became the witnesses of the resurrection and having encountered Jesus and been assured of His resurrection He commissioned them to go and tell others that He was risen.  We no longer have to live in sin and separation from God.

He also wanted them to know that the time for being witnesses had an expiration date.  Soon He will return.  We may think that it has been a long time and He has not come back yet but you and I need to live in the reality that Jesus can return at any moment.

LIFE APPLICATION

You are a continuation of that mission given to the original band of followers – you are to testify of God’s power and allow His power to be on display in your lives.  You must also proclaim the Good News. 
 
You are to be His Witnesses – His living testimony.  How are you doing?  What are you doing to be His witnesses?
Jesus is coming back soon!  We who have encountered Him must be passing on the news with urgency.  Are we urgent about sharing the Good News with those who need to know?

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